Tevfik Arif (also known as Tofic Arifov or Tevfik Arif Doyen) is best known as the property developer whose company, Bayrock Group, built Trump SoHo under a licensing agreement with the Trump Organization. However, Arif's businesses span multiple sectors and transcend international borders.
Arif was born in the Jambyl Region of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic in 1953. Arif was one of four boys born to were Turkish national parents living in what would become the modern country of Kazakhstan.
As a young man, Arif moved to Moscow to study international relations at a prominent university. His degree and knowledge in this field propelled the young Arif into a position within the USSR's Ministry of Commerce and Trade where he would work for 17 years. His work ethic and talent would lead to his promotion to deputy director of the Ministry's Department of Hotel Management. His time working as a civil servant instilled within Arif a passion for hotel development and hotel management that would follow him into the private sector.
Tevfik Arif leaves public service for the private sector
Arif made the jump from a government official to a private businessman and entrepreneur during the period of industry privatization that followed the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Officially resigning from the Ministry in 1991, Arif worked in several ventures within the natural resources and minerals sector in the country of Kazakhstan and beyond.
Arif and his brother became the owners of a chromium plant in Kazakhstan. He also started an import-export business called the Specialty Chemicals Trading Company that traded metals, raw minerals and other resources.
In addition to his investments and businesses in natural resources and metals, Arif pursued real estate investments and started developing luxury hotels. His high-end real estate projects were primarily concentrated in Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkey. Arif was a primary developer on the Labada luxury hotel in Antalya, Turkey.
In 2001, Tevfik Arif began a new business venture in the United States when he founded Bayrock Group in New York. Bayrock was a real estate investor and property development company. The company's early real estate developments were modest and did not attract much attention. They included a shopping center called Loehmann's Seaport Plaza in the Sheepshead Bay neighborhood of Brooklyn.
These projects allowed Arif to establish Bayrock in the market before pursuing large luxury development projects. Bayrock and Arif set their sights on the competitive and prestigious Manhattan real estate market. The company moved its offices to Trump Tower in the heart of the city. It did not take long before Bayrock was introduced to the building's owners, the Trump Organization.
The two companies were soon in talks to work together on a project that Bayrock had begun laying plans to develop. Arif understood the power and value of the Trump brand name. Bayrock negotiated a licensing agreement with the Trump Organization to use the Trump name in its new development project. In exchange for licensing its brand, the Trump Organization would receive a share of equity in the building and would manage the building. Trump did not invest any capital in the development of the building.
Trump SoHo, as the development project would be called, was developed by Bayrock with its partner, the Sapir Organization. Nothing was spared when it came to the architecture and design elements of the luxury condominium-hotel complex located in the trendy SoHo neighborhood. The best materials were imported, and world-famous fashion houses were commissioned to furnish the rooms of the building. The 46-story project opened in 2008.
Bayrock Group and the Trump Organization explored the potential development of more projects under similar licensing agreements in Florida and Arizona. However, unfavorable market conditions in the United States due to the real estate recession of 2008 ended the working relationship between the two companies. Market conditions forced Arif to turn his focus back on the Central Asian and European real estate markets.
Arif has lived and invested in businesses around the world. His global connections and international perspective have enabled his business to thrive. Bayrock Group actively operated for over seven years in the United States, during which time it invested in real estate valued at over $2.5 billion.
Entering the United States real estate and property development market can be difficult and risky for outsiders. Tevfik Arif took a great chance in starting Bayrock and undertaking a venture as large as the Trump SoHo project. His perseverance and determination were instrumental in the success of the project and Bayrock.
In recent years, Tevfik Arif has stepped back from the business he built. Although he is partially retired, he remains an important advisor for the company. Arif remains involved in charitable initiatives that support community development and education.